§ The House then went into Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. J. W. MELLOR in the Chair.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ On Vote A for 155,403 men on the Home and Colonial Establishments of the Army, exclusive of those serving in India,
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,) Stirling Burghs
, who was received with cheers, said: Mr. Mellor, I remember that last year, in the course of the Debate which preceded the corresponding Motion to that which I am about to make, there was applied to me what, I suppose, is regarded as a somewhat damaging epithet. I was told that I was an optimist Minister—[Mr. HANBURY: "Hear, hear."]—and my hon. Friend who cheers accepts the responsibility. Well, Mr. Mellor, if an optimist, whether a Minister or not, means a man whose natural disposition would lead him to shut his eyes wantonly to deficiencies, to hide away failures, and to shrink from remedying evils, I hope that I need not repudiate any such imputation, and I hope that neither I nor anyone who may follow me in my present Office will ever be justly open to it. But, after all, I am not sure whether there is not something worse than an optimist even in this extreme sense of the term, and that worse, thing is a pessimist. There are plenty of pessimists about, croakers and detractors, who are always ready, either from sheer love of the art of denigration, in the interest and with a view to the adoption of some untried theory, to denounce existing arrangements, and who generally do so with that airy and summary judgment which we never find except in company 1158 with imperfect information and a total lack of responsibility. If these Estimates, which I now submit to the Committee are optimistic Estimates, as I admit they are, it is only in this reasonable sense, that they recognise the good points of our present Army and do not seek to disturb the main principles of its system and organisation. It is quite consistent with the character and rôle of a reformer to wait until our reforms have borne their fruit and not to go on reforming the same field again and again. It is right that we should press the soil around our plant and trim and prune the plant itself; but it is hardly wise to take it up and plant it afresh every year, or even every half-dozen years. I have more than once stated in Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates my views of the purposes for which the British Army is maintained. I have said that in my opinion at the present time, as to the main fabric of our Army system, the truest courage and the best reforming wisdom lies in leaving well alone. But, as I shall prove, I hope, in explaining the Estimates, it does not follow that there are not minor and important improvements to be made. Above all, let it not be understood that the Army is at a standstill. On the contrary, it is steadily advancing in efficiency. The Regular Army, and it's auxiliaries also, are advancing, and this is due, I would have the Committee believe, not to anything that has been done or anything that has to be done, by those who control its administration. It is due to the leaven working in the Army itself—to the great zeal, to the higher professional attainments, to the increased devotion of the officers and the men in its ranks. I should be culpable indeed, and so would those who work with me, if these Estimates showed any neglect of the real interests of the Army or failed to give evidence that we are doing all in our power to assist those who are so strenuously upholding, maintaining and advancing the standard of its efficiency. Now, Mr. Mellor, I wish to refer, in the first place, to a subject which takes precedence of all others. The question may be asked—it was asked on Monday night—are your preparations made in anticipation of the actual outbreak and circumstances of war? And again, another question may 1159 be asked—Is there between the two fighting services such a good understanding and such a common intelligence as would enable them to co-operate with effect on the outbreak of hostilities? These are genuine and vital questions, and I am able confidently to state to this Committee that within the last five or six years great strides have been made in this matter, and that now there is a perfect accord between the two services. I believe that every contingency which is reasonably probable has been foreseen, and I can assure the Committee of the satisfactory working of the administrative machinery by which questions of defence are jointly considered and worked out by representatives of the Army and Navy. By means of the Joint Naval and Military Committee the principles of Imperial Defence as regards the protection of our coasts and coaling stations have been formulated. The War Office has promulgated them to the officers commanding districts at home and abroad, and all local schemes of Defence have been corrected, where necessary, so as to harmonise with these principles. The Colonial Defence Committee has provided a means of discussing these matters, as they affect both Crown and self-governing colonies, and especially of communicating the approved principles to the latter. I may add that the experience of the war between China and Japan has shown us that the conclusions deduced from history, and especially from the history of our own country, have been correct—that the principles of war do not change, and that in the designing of defences against both attacks in force and raiding attacks, and in the modification of details rendered necessary by the improvements in ships, armaments and warlike appliances we have been working in the right direction. These Estimates show practically the same burden to be imposed on the taxes as those of last year. There is, indeed, a difference on the right side, from the point of view of economy, of £22,100, but this is, as I must admit to the Committee, a small and accidental difference on so large a transaction. Nay, I must in candour admit that the figure before them really means an increase of available money by at least £150,000, because prices of forage and provisions, which ruled high last year, are now low. But 1160 new demands and necessities are constantly pressing upon us, and, as I have before now explained, our requirements are now so rigid and stereotyped that there is very little room for that pleasant process which, were I introducing the Navy, and not the Army, Estimates, I should call "veering and hauling." In particular, the task of bringing old barracks up to modern sanitary requirements is a duty which public feeling will not allow us to ignore and postpone, and which constitute a large annual drain on our available funds. If hon. Members will turn to the memorandum which I have issued in explanation of the main features of the Estimates, they will see that the first subject with which I deal is that of establishments. And here crops up the perennial question of the excess in the number of battalions abroad. I assure the Committee that so long as I am at the War Office I will miss no chance of getting that inequality abolished or mitigated. We hope to be enabled to bring away a battalion from Egypt. The men saved by the decreased strength of the battalion arid by the reduction of its depot I propose to add to the battalions at Mauritius and the Cape. We should thus do two good things—we should add somewhat to the garrisons of those coaling stations, and we should (and this I consider much the most important matter) bring those battalions up to the standard foreign strength of 920 rank and file. It is now fully acknowledged that the most important point in working the short-service system is uniformity in the units—uniformity of recruits, of drafts, of discharges; uniformity, in fact, of drain, and uniformity of replenishment. The hon. and gallant Member for Oxford, indeed, derided even the slight degree of prominence given to so trivial a matter as the moving of a single battalion. He asked whether in the German Army any notice would be taken of so trumpery a matter. No, Sir, it would not. And the reason is that the German Army, though greatly exceeding ours in strength and numbers, is immeasurably more easy to maintain. Not only is it a conscript Army, but it is entirely a home Army; it has no foreign garrisons to supply, on foreign duties to perform. Our greatest difficulties—nay, all our difficulties—arise from the necessity of supplying 1161 drafts and reliefs for India and the colonial stations, and from these difficulties the German Army is exempt. With an equal number of battalions at home and abroad everything works smoothly; with a preponderance, however slight, abroad friction and disturbance arise. Therefore it is that we speak of the importance of even one battalion coming home. And I mean no disrespect to the hon. and gallant General when I say that his disparagement of this small circumstance does not indicate that he has brought his acknowledged acuteness of mind to bear effectively upon the problem he is so ready to solve. I pass over the additions which are made to the fortress engineers, and to the technical branches of that, service, and I come to the artillery. Certain important changes are being introduced, as indicated in my memorandum, in the organisation of that arm, and these I must explain to the Committee more precisely. In the British service the relative proportion of artillery to infantry in the field army has for many years been dropping further and further behind the Continental standards. In order to bring the number of our guns into closer approximation with Continental standards, and with our own requirements, we propose an increase of one battery Royal Horse Artillery and seven batteries of field artillery—i.e., a total of 48 guns on mobilisation. The result will be that on the mobilised or war establishments our proportion of guns will be 4.6 guns per 1,000 infantry, or, in other words, 102 guns per army corps, as opposed to the former proportion of 3.8 guns per 1,000 infantry, or 84 guns per army corps. This increase has been effected at a very small cost, so far as the peace establishments are concerned, being met to a large extent by administrative changes. These changes are, broadly speaking—(1) a reduction in the number of the horse and field depot batteries, and a curtailment of the duties hitherto assigned to them, a large proportion of the training hitherto carried out at the depots, together with the preparation of drafts for abroad, being, under the new arrangements, divided between the service batteries other than those of the 1st Army Corps; (2) a reduction of the batteries of medium strength to the four-gun establishment. 1162 The net result of these modifications and readjustments will involve no appreciable alteration in the total establishments of officers, non-commissioned officers and men, and horses, while, at the same time, giving us a total increase of eight batteries. It was asked, "What is the continental proportion of guns per army corps?" I think in Germany there are. 5.7 guns per 1,000 infantry, and in France 5 guns; the average in the army corps of France and Germany is 120. As to the garrison artillery, I have to say that the number of service companies has been increased by six, three at home and three abroad. The increase of three companies at home is due to the increased duties in connection with the armament of Scotland—the southern and western districts—practically the defence of the mercantile ports. Abroad the, double companies at Ceylon, Singapore, and the Cape of Good Hope have been converted into two single companies at each of these stations, with a small addition to the number of men in each case, it being found that the new arrangement is more suitable both from a tactical and an administrative point of view. These changes have been met, as in the case of the Horse and Field Artillery, by a reduction of the Garrison Artillery depots from nine to six, and a readjustment of the duties between the depots and the service companies, by which the former will be charged with the reception, clothing, kitting, and elementary instruction of the recruit, while the further training and the preparation of drafts for service abroad is to be handed over to the service companies. The Committee will see, apart, from the question of the redistribution of force and the practical increase of the mobilised forces which we thus obtain, those changes will effect what I believe to be a very great improvement, that is to say, they will to a large extent assimilate the practice in the Royal Artillery as regards the training of recruits and preparing of drafts to that which prevails and is found to be efficient in the battalions of the line. I ought not, I think, to pass from this subject without saying that this is the result of the very closest attention not only of Sir Redvers Buller, but of General Lloyd, the Deputy Adjutant-General of the Royal Artillery, one of 1163 the most competent officers in his arm of the service. I must interpose a word here before I quit this subject. I wish to say a word of sincere and well-earned praise to a particular corps. The West India Regiment cannot be said, among all the units which make up her Majesty's military service, to be a favourite of fortune. It serves exclusively in trying climates; its duties are mostly monotonous; its officers' service is a prolonged exile; its men are of a different race from ourselves; and therefore it is the more necessary to make ample acknowledgment of the excellent service which it has done within the last two years on the West Coast of Africa. It has never failed in its duty, and its gallantry and endurance have stood every test. We have, however, to deplore the loss of several officers and men, and above all I would mention Colonel Ellis, not only a first-rate soldier, but when in charge of a force a worthy representative in all respects of the British power. The whole Army in my opinion may well be proud of their comrades in the West India Regiment. The state of recruiting for the Army is fully explained in the report of the Inspector-General. During last summer we lost from the War Office the services of General William Feilding, who had been at the head of the recruiting branch, and who had brought into it a great wealth of energy and fertility of resource from which we shall long benefit. The fated hour, however, had arrived for General Feilding—what answers to the "crack o' doom" under present conditions of compulsory retirement, and he had, to the great regret of all friends of the Army, to relinquish his post. The vacancy having occurred, I took the opportunity to unite this office with the Deputy Adjutant General for the Auxiliary Forces. The truth is that the business of recruiting is intimately wrought into the questions affecting the Militia and the Reserve, and that much advantage is gained by the same officer who controls the one being responsible for the other. Accordingly, Sir Francis Grenfell, with an officer to assist him, is placed over the whole of these duties, and they could not be in more capable hands. During the year 1894 the number of recruits who joined the 1164 Regular Army was 33,698. How has that filled our wants? Sir Francis Grenfell, in paragraphs 3 and 4 of his report, very clearly explains what is required:(3) In recruiting for the British Army, more than half of which is stationed abroad, and whih is raised by voluntary enlistment, the following difficulties have to be contended with: (a) We have to obtain a sufficient number of recruits to meet the annual waste. (b) We have to find men of the proper age, height, physique, and trade, to meet the requirements of the various arms of the service. (c) We have to distribute them as they are obtained, amongst the several regiments and corps, to meet not only present, but future requirements, and this is no small difficulty, bearing in mind that the establishment of battalions varies with their location at home and abroad, and that recruits before enlistment almost invariably select the corps they wish to join. (d) We have to keep our Army in India up to full strength with trained soldiers of not less than 20 years of age. (4) The British establisment of the Army at home and in the Colonies, as voted by Parliament, can never at any time of the year be exceeded, and this requires careful watching, particularly between the months of April and September, since during that period there is no drain upon it for Indian drafts. The first troopship leaves England with drafts for India early in September, and the men embarking are, on the day the ship leaves, struck off the British establishment. We endeavour, therefore, to recruit up to full numbers by September 1st. If the British establishment were complete two or three months before this date, restrictions would have to be placed on recruiting to prevent the number enlisted exceeding the ordinary monthly waste. Restrictions are very detrimental to recruiting, as it is found by experience that it is sometimes months before the usual flow of recruits comes in after the restrictions are taken off. From this it will be seen that the state of the Army on September 1st is the best test of the effect of recruiting for the year.Now, on September 1st, the total establishment, British and Indian, which had been deficient on that date in 1890 by 5,913 men, in 1891 by 6,651, in 1892 by 1,398, in 1893 by eight, had, in 1894, a surplus of 1,230, being, on the Indian establishment 1,025, and on the British, 205. These figures show a steady and satisfactory trend towards a healthy completeness, and are a proof, not only of so much more briskness of recruiting, but of a more careful and scientific administration. May I quote two paragraphs from my own memorandum which exactly exhibit the results of this careful administration, which is one of the fruits of the investigation this subject received 1165 at the hands of the Wantage Committee? I say:The report of the Inspector-General of Recruiting will be found to be satisfactory, though the age at which young men join the service seems to be much the same as in past years. By careful administration, however, many of the evils formerly noticeable have been cured. It is found that by closely watching the constitution of the regiments, by the strict regulation of recruiting, so as to avoid abnormally large numbers of men being posted to regiments in the same year, and by the extension of the service of men in the few battalions suffering from exceptional circumstances, excessive drafts from regiments at home have been almost completely avoided. The general result is that, after supplying nearly all the drafts, there are only five battalions now at home that have not in their ranks between 300 and 400 rank and file of over 20 years of age. The general average number of such men in all the home battalions falls little short of 400. This is a more satisfactory condition than was at one time thought possible under the present organisation of the service, and when it is borne in mind that for every home battalion there are 700 to 800 men in the Reserve (excluding the Militia Reserve), it may be claimed that the short-service system has at length been brought to as good a state as was anticipated when it was instituted by Lord Cardwell.It being found impossible to obtain this full number of recruits in all respects up to the standard, Sir F. Grenfell explains in Paragraph 9, which I will not read to the Committee, how we fill up our num-hers with growing lads, and the measure we take to regulate by higher authority these special cases. The percentage of these for the last five years has been 25.8, 32.9, 30.6, 22.3 and 25.4; and it is found that a large proportion of these recruits—about two-thirds—had in a few months of steady life, drill, and feeding, reached the full standard. A fair test of the quality and stamina of recruits is also afforded by the number invalided per 1,000 effectives under two years service: and these were for the last five years successively, 14, 14, 14, 15, 12 per thousand. That is a fair and satisfactory result. Only 12 per 1,000 of these "weedy recruits," as they are sometimes called, were invalided during the first two years of their service. The net waste from desertion has fallen from 2,726 last year to 2,125 this year; and I hope I am not unduly optimistic when I say that these figures and facts show a most satisfactory progress in this vital matter of recruiting. The record of the Army, as regards both health and discipline, in 1166 1894 is good. The admissions to hospital among the home troops were considerably below those of the previous year; and the death-rate was only 3.59 per thousand. Let the House compared that with the death-rate among the civil population. The percentage tried by court martial for all offences, serious and otherwise, has fallen from 6.85 to 5.96. Now, as to the organisation of the Army for actual work: a steady advance has been made in the arrangements for the mobilisation and concentration of our Forces for home defence, tending to greater simplicity and consequent efficiency. I hope I am not wearying the House with this statement, but the facts are important, and one cannot be oratorical over them. "For greater accuracy," as the phrase goes, I have committed them to paper. The mobilisation regulations have been revised and several changes have been introduced. Instead of keeping two sets of regimental equipment in different places, as was the former plan, we now, in nearly every case, keep the whole of the equipment stored at the mobilisation station of the unit—that is, at its peace station. This will save both time and expense, as several civilian caretakers are dispensed with. On mobilisation being ordered, the registered horses will be sent to the peace station of the unit, instead of to the remount centre; thus it will be seen that the units will receive all their home-defence equipment and horses at one station. The few additional articles required by units for service abroad are held at the port of embarkation. Five bearer companies and five field hospitals were mobilized at Aldershot and the Curragh, associated with the other arms of the Service in the important duties which would devolve upon them in war. These manœuvres were most instructive to the staff and the other officers as well as to the Department, for which they were primarily undertaken. We hope to repeat these exercises, perhaps on a smaller scale, yearly, in order that the bulk of the Medical Staff Corps now serving may be trained in the work. Partial mobilisation was carried out at most of the important coast commands at home and abroad. The Army Reserve on February 1st this year reached the total of 84,372 men. This is an abnormal 1167 strength, owing to the very circumstances to which I was referring—too large a drain on some occasions, filled up by too many recruits, and too many men going out into the Reserve. I hope we shall have more regularity in future. The strength will now probably somewhat diminish; but there will be no difficulty in keeping it up to 80,000 by reviving Class D, consisting of men ready to extend their service beyond 12 years. The men are there on paper, we used to be told; but shall we find them when we want them? That is a question which may reasonably be asked. Yes, these men are on paper, and they are in the flesh also, there being only 1,014 absentees out of 80,349 men. And the proportion of absentees to effective strength, which was 23 per thousand in 1890, has fallen steadily in subsequent years to 21, 19, 17, and 13.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
Yes, and the fact that they have not drawn their pay is a very good test, of the non-existence of the men. It is proposed that, some Reservists should be asked to come out in connection with a contemplated mobilisation of Guards this year. I am asked: "Why not call them out, and why not alter the law to enable you to do so?" This is a matter requiring great deliberation. Our Reserve men may have difficulty in finding employment. A Committee of the House is now investigating that question. But I am satisfied that that difficulty might be increased in a manifold degree were we to make them liable to be called away from their vocations at the sweet will of the Secretary of State, and in obedience to some possibly trivial military necessity. With regard to the Militia, those members of the Committee who listened to me last, year will remember that I said that restrictions had been placed on Militia recruiting at the end of 1893. These restrictions were continued for more than two months in 1894, and they necessarily had an unfavourable effect upon the numbers enlisted, there being a falling off of over 12,000 recruits, as compared with the previous year. The restrictions, I may say, were the suspension of the enlistment of growing lads between. 17 and 18 years of age, and the raising of 1168 the standard of height in most regiments. No doubt the number of recruits enlisted was also affected in a way which the Committee will not regret, by the stricter inquiries that were ordered to be made as to their antecedents. But although 12,566 fewer recruits were enlisted than in 1893, the enrolled strength of the Militia, on January 1, 1895, was only 4,936 less than it was on January 1, 1894, and the numbers present at the training of last year (including those excused from attendance) were actually 83 more than were present at the training of 1893, This satisfactory result is owing principally to the number of absentees without leave being 3,027 less than in the previous year, which is due, almost entirely, to the stricter inquiries made into the recruits' antecedents, and the more stringent measures taken for the punishment of absentees by bringing them to trial by Courts-martial instead of before the Civil Courts. On May 1, 1884, an alteration was made in the payment of bounties both to re-engaged militiamen and recruits. Formerly, the re-engagement bounty of 30s. was paid to the men at any time of the year when their re-engagement or re-enlistment took place. But it was found that, a number of men received the bounty and did not come up at the subsequent training. From our knowledge of human nature, that is what we might have expected. Now, however, unless a man re-engages at the training, he cannot receive his re-engagement bounty until the subsequent assembly of his regiment. As regards recruits, they formerly received £1 of their £2 bounty on the termination of their drill on enlistment, or on joining the Regular Army; whereas now they only receive 10s. This had a very little appreciable effect in deterring Militia recruits from joining the Army, but it has had a considerable effect in bringing more men up to the training. Both of these alterations in the payment of the bounty will effect a considerable saving to the public; and will, no doubt, tend to lessen the number of absentees from training. It will thus increase the genuineness and the real efficiency of the Militia force as shown in the numbers enrolled. The percentage of these absentees fell last year for Militiamen generally from 10.9 to 8.7, and for recruits from 23.1 to 1169 18.9; and I hope it will continue to diminish. I am sorry to say that there is a growing deficiency of officers, especially in the Artillery Militia. This may be in some measure due to the reduced number of artillery commissions now allotted to Militia subalterns; but—speaking for myself, with the strong prejudices which I have—I can hold out no hope of any change in this respect. The Royal Military Academy, in fact, supplies as many young officers as we require; and I must frankly disclaim any personal favour for the Militia entrance to the Army. I am not sure that the couple of years that these young men go through a few weeks' training with Militia regiments, in which they can take only a passing interest, are always well-spent years. And when I think of the labour required, for preparation on the part of candidates at the open competitive examination, and the expense which that preparation imposes on parents, I am not at all disposed, in justice to them, to extend the easier and cheaper modes of access to the commissioned ranks. During 1893, 13 Militia battalions were trained in brigade at Aldershot and five at Strensall. Now, I do not know whether many hon. Members have been present on an occasion when Line and Militia battalions—as often happens, now that under the territorial system they are so closely connected—act in co-operation. If they have, they must have been struck with the incongruity when a fine Militia regiment, excellent in discipline and in physique, and with every reason to be proud of itself, goes past with no better head-dress than the Glengarry or the forage cap, while the line battalions have the full dress helmet. I have said that this is incongruous; but it is worse, for it is felt to mark some degree of inferiority, and on active service the effect might go beyond mere sentiment. I am not one who would care much about a difference in a strap or a button, or in the colour of a trimming; but so glaring a difference in head-gear, conspicuous at a distance, ought surely to be avoided. I am therefore happy to say that I hope in the coming year to make a beginning with the issue of helmets to the Militia, and the clothing vote will enable us to make the issue to about 25,000 men. 1170 Of the Yeomanry we continue to receive satisfactory reports; the smaller corps are disappearing and larger and more efficient corps are improving in drill and discipline. There is especially an improvement in musketry, and my friends who serve in the force will be pleased, and perhaps relieved, to know that the contingent allowance is now settled for three years and will be £3 to those who pass out of the third class in musketry and 30s. for those who do not. Turning to the Volunteers, this popular, and I would say characteristic, element in our defensive force is stronger than it has ever been. The numbers enrolled were 227,741 in 1893, 231,368 in 1894. The higher-grant efficients rose from 217,900 to 223,972, the lower-grant efficients fell from 1,211 to 871, while the numbers at inspection were in 1894 200,693; in fact, to use a slang phrase, it was "a record year." During 1894 62,218 Volunteers attended brigade camps. Now I have no doubt they derived great benefit; I have no doubt that others who formed a regimental camp derived benefit from doing so; but, on the other hand, it has been represented to me, on the part of a considerable body of opinion among Scottish Volunteers—and the Committee will forgive me if I deem them among the best—that they hold brigade camps, and still more regimental camps, to be little better than a picnic ["Oh!"]—well, that is their strong opinion—and that they derive more good from visits, even at, wide intervals, to a camp of instruction, such as Aldershot or Strensall, where they can work with, and learn from, regular troops, than from any series, however continuous, of local and partial exercises. That is what is pointed out to me on behalf of a considerable body of men. They therefore wish that the money which would be spent upon allowances for local camps should be concentrated on the rarer and more costly expense of a visit to a camp of instruction. Now I will tell the Committee my idea on this subject. It is that with the most voluntary of all voluntary forces we must suit all tastes, all tempers, and all circumstances. I therefore would try, while leaving facilities for local camps to those whom they best suit, to gratify the more aspiring ambition of those who 1171 wish to travel, even from Land's End or John o' Groat's, in order to enjoy what they consider a higher training; and I hope some steps towards this may be possible. I do not wish to impose any sort of uniformity or to put any impediments in the way of forming regimental camps, but if a regiment find it more beneficial to themselves, owing to their merits or their faults, to proceed more rarely to a training centre and get the benefit of being under Line officers and trained by brigadiers of the Line, seeing and copying the work of the Regular' forces, then I think, by the help of the railway companies, we may be able to indulge that wish. The long-service medal has been now issued, and I rejoice that this recognition has been given, though somewhat tardily, to men who have served their country well. I hope that the conditions are now acceptable, and I think I deserve the congratulations of the Committee on having yielded one concession after another until, to the best of my knowledge, there is nothing left to yield. On the subject of the Volunteers I wish to add that I have considered with all care and respect the recommendations of the Select Committee which sat last year under the able presidency of my hon. Friend near me (Mr. Woodall). After weighing their report and the evidence received by the Committee, I have come to the conclusion, with the complete concurrence of my military advisers, which I will now state. I shrink from any alteration of the conditions under which Volunteers can be called out; I shrink from substituting "National danger and emergency" for "Actual or apprehended invasion" as the occasion on which this can be done. This may not please some of the most forward spirits of the Volunteers, among whom I recognise my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Howard Vincent); but I am more cautious. I am much mistaken if such an alteration would not give rise to uneasiness among many Volunteers who have business engagements which would be suspended by invasion, but might not be affected by circumstances included in the vaguer phrase of "National danger or emergency." I am, however, willing to consider whether fuller powers should not be taken to accept the voluntary offer of service as a way of meeting the difficulty. 1172 At present, although we are able to accept the offer of a Volunteer, the Secretary of State cannot accept their service as a body. I hope that some further step in this direction may be taken. The Committee recommend that Volunteers when under arms and in uniform should be subject to military law. Again I would say that, however reasonable this provision may seem to some ardent gentlemen, I doubt its being palatable to some even of the ablest and hardest-working members of the force; and I observe that the Committee themselves say that the commanding officer already possesses ample powers to deal with offenders, and this is surely the better solution. With regard to general meetings, I hope that the difficulty pointed out will be got over by an amendment of the Volunteer Regulations. We propose to adopt an important recommendation of the Committee and amend the Military Lands Act so as to permit a Volunteer Corps or Local Authority to borrow from the Public Works Commissioners on the security of their buildings as they have been constructed. This will prove a considerable been, I think. Now I come to the transport vote, and the question of transport naturally suggests ships. Are there any hon. Members present who will join me in dropping a tear over the official grave of that venerable vessel the Assistance? In the vote for provisions the Estimates are framed upon the low market prices which have ruled for a number of years, which show no immediate sign of any considerable move. In forage particularly, for which as an exception the drought of 1893 caused high prices in 1893–4, the large crop of 1894, with the open winter of that year, has provided abundant stocks for 1895, and the sum required has greatly fallen—it is reduced by about 25 per cent., contributing, as I have said, a considerable sum of money which we can spend on other purposes. Coming to the Clothing Vote, let me say at once that I underestimated the amount required last year, and I have now to increase the Vote by £52,000. I assume fully the blame, not for the amount required this year so much as for the insufficient sum taken last year, and my excuse, such as it is, is twofold. In the first place, we had a large stock in hand at the, beginning of 1173 the year; and, in the second place, we had a very energetic and ambitious Director of Clothing, and I counted toe much even upon his well-known powers. After all you cannot make bricks without straw, and the best of all possible directors cannot furnish clothing without money. The new system of issue of clothing to troops is in fill operation and is working quite success fully. Under it, as hon. Members will recollect, the soldier retains his old clothing (except his greatcoat and helmet), and a cash allowance is made for clothing when the soldier makes it last beyond the prescribed time. The annual April issue has been abolished, and issues are now made or the anniversary of enlistment. A new system of account also is in operation and is working well. Perhaps it is hardly necessary for me now to go into details. A system of inspection of regimental clothing stocks is now fully developed. A trained staff for inspection has been provided, units in the United Kingdom have been mapped out for periodical inspection, surprise visits are made, and units leaving for or arriving from abroad are inspected on departure or arrival. This, it is to be observed, has been cordially welcomed by commanding officers. Shorter and simpler clothing regulations have been published. The new regulations are about a quarter of the size of the old book, and greater freedom of action is allowed to commanding officers in the matter of clothing. War reserves have at last been put on a sound footing. A definite standard has been authorised which includes clothing for the whole of the Army Reserve, besides sufficient clothing to put the Militia into the field. Complete supplies of clothing and necessaries for an expeditionary force will shortly be in store. Money is now provided to fully complete all deficiencies, and a staff has been, created for specially matching the reserve stock, which will be ear-marked so as to avoid depletion and deterioration, and storage accommodation has been improved and increased with a view to ensuring rapidity of despatch. I think that this will give much satisfaction to the Committee. Further, the transport arrangements have been improved and cheapened. Water carriage will in 1174 future be employed as much as possible in cases where time is not a first consideration. Arrangements are being made with the railway companies for rapid despatch of goods without the intervention of middlemen, and an expert with military training has been supplied by the Director of Clothing to supervise transport arrangements. The arrangements which have been made by the Director of Clothing, and which I have sanctioned, will result in placing for the first time the whole of the railway system of the country—that is, the finest railway organisation in the world—in direct and immediate touch with the Clothing Department, thus ensuring the immediate despatch and rapid delivery of clothing in case of mobilisation. There has also been a great improvement in the system of storing clothing, and simplifying matters in the event of mobilisation. Patterns are being overhauled with a view to improvement where necessary, and to greater uniformity. If the Committee do not think these details beneath notice I will mention a few instances. Cavalry pantaloons and boots have, at increased cost, been greatly improved; better serge and khaki drill for foreign clothing is being introduced; an improved infantry great-coat has come into issue, and endeavours are being made to obtain a lighter and more flexible infantry boot; also to introduce a more useful and sightly helmet than the present one for the Field and Garrison Artillery. Provision has been made for the issue of khaki to the garrison at Malta at a cost of about, £5,000, and the Malta Militia will be furnished with greatcoats. Valises of a new pattern will be supplied to the Field Artillery. A considerable sum has been allotted for the provision of improved cloth for the field-service cap, the present quality having been generally complained of. Experiments are being made in aluminium for mess tins and similiar articles. This will show that the Department has been active in the past year. After the conversation of last night, I am happy to be able to add that employment at Pimlico is found for Reservists to the very fullest possible extent. Except for technical posts, only men who have served in the Army or Navy are now taken on. Already about half of those employed are ex-soldiers, and 1175 the number increases yearly as vacancies occur. Another important fact is this—an Army Order has been issued this month authorising, within certain limits, the sale to soldiers of necessaries. Formerly, if a soldier required any small article, such as a toothbrush, it had to got through the ordinary forms, and be debited here and there, and there was a great deal of fuss about it. It is believed that the change, which has been well received, will prove a boon to the soldier and a relief to the accounting officer. It may seem a small matter, but, after all, these apparently trivial reforms do a great deal to increase the soldier's comfort and contentment. Turning now to material of war, properly so called, I believe that in the past year, and in our provision for the coming year, we are well keeping pace with the march of scientific improvement. The last year has been marked by a general advance in artillery material, of which I will give some of the most remarkable instances. The use of wire in the construction of guns has enabled us to make ordnance of exceptional power, with the result that, whereas a few years ago a muzzle velocity of 2,000 foot-seconds was accepted as being sufficient, we have now guns of 2,300, 2,500, and shall have some of 2,600 and 2,800 foot-seconds. The accuracy of guns has likewise increased. For example, the 12in. gun threw three rounds, at a range of 2,000 yards, through a hole a little larger than the shot, while at a range of over 10,000 yards the mean error in range of three rounds was only 15 yards. I think these are remarkable proofs of the extraordinary strides that have been made in scientific gunnery. Both of these results are, to a great extent, to be ascribed to cordite, the use of which has developed, with the result that we have last year fired charges as large as 167½lb. The bursting charges of our shells have been increased, owing to the additional capacity which can be obtained from shell of a given weight if made of cast steel when compared with cast iron, since the strength of the former allows the walls to be made thinner. Additional power in projectiles will shortly be given by the use of high explosives as bursting charges. The light gun of the horse artillery has shown itself on the 1176 practice ground equal to the former heavier gun, and the latter is about to be increased in value by the introduction of a 15lb. shell. This, again, is due to cordite, since, now that the charge of 4lb. of powder can be abandoned for one of less than a pound of cordite, the weight thus gained can be put into the shell, and thus a more powerful projectile can be given without adding to the weight of the gun behind the team. A slightly altered system of rifling has enabled us to make barrels for rifles and for Maxim guns which are serviceable after having fired many more rounds than formerly. Considerable progress is being made in the provision of armament, and an advance is to be noted in the power of both guns and projectiles and in the simplification of the mountings. A new time fuze adopted for field artillery is a great improvement upon any of its predecessors, and the difficulty which was at one time experienced in sealing the vent of guns fired with cordite, and thus preventing erosion, has been, altogether overcome. In the coming year we shall make the first step towards a new siege train, by ordering two batteries of 6 inch B.L. howitzers, which are pieces of exceptional power, considering their small weight. In my memorandum I announce the intention to provide one additional battery to the new horse artillery gun, of which we have now only one battery. It is not often that a Minister has the pleasure of improving upon his own promise; but I am in that position. Instead of one, I propose to provide three additional batteries, and this, I am sure, the Committee will be pleased to learn. Another battery of field howitzers will also be provided, and the armaments of several important stations will be completed. The materials of the field artillery will be fitted with all the latest improvements, and a considerable number of batteries will be changed from shaft to pole draught. Arrangements will also be made to supply Artillery, Militia, and Volunteers with a certain number of depression, range-finders, in order that they may receive instruction in their use. As regards the new rifle, I will explain to the Committee precisely how that matter now stands. The whole of the Infantry have been re-armed with the following exceptions:—the 2nd Battalion North Lancashire Reigment, the 1st Royal 1177 Sussex Regiment, and the 2nd Lincoln. As regards the first two battalions, they are stationed in Ireland, and have, not been re-armed up to the present on account of want of large accommodation, but that we hope will soon be provided, and the arms are ready for them. As regards the third battalion, it is now on its way home from Singapore, and orders have been given for it to be re-armed on its arrival in England. As to the Militia, orders have been given for all battalions in Great Britain to be re-armed with the new rifle. If range accommodation is not available, battalions are to carry out their musketry practice with Martini-Henry rifles. To enable them to do this, they are allowed to retain 100 or 200 of those rifles. As regards Ireland, orders have been issued for nine Militia battalions only to be rearmed, the Field Marshal Commanding the Forces saying that range accommodation cannot be provided for more during 1895. Speaking generally, the only obstacle in the way of the entire re-arming of Line and Militia battalions is lack of range accommodation, as to which I shall have something to say further on. As members will see, there is a large diminution in this Vote for warlike stores, due to our requirements being in great measure completed. On the Works Vote there is, on the contrary, a considerable increase. Of this £55,800 is the addition to the sinking fund for repayment of expenditure under the barracks loan. Then there is the constant demand for sanitary repairs and adaptations, which, with old buildings as their field, are pressing and growing, and with which it is difficult to cope. Let me give as instances—Aldershot, £3,000; Windsor, £3,500; Belfast, £2,000; Ashton, £2,800; Canterbury, £3,000; Woolwich, £5,000; Bermuda, £3,900; Netley, £6,500. And I would call attention to the large sums, no less than £357,700, for maintenance—a service which it would be the worst possible economy to stint. The chief new services are the increase in barrack accommodation in St. Lucia, and the commencement of a military hospital in Hong-kong, in place of the hospital ship Meeanee, which has been reported unfit for the purpose. Other services are the purchase of land for artillery and rifle ranges, notably at Kilbride in the Dublin district, and a 1178 contribution from the War Department towards the cost of drainage and water supply at Gibraltar. I have mentioned the barrack loan. The progress of works under it continues steady and satisfactory, the average annual expenditure being about £600,000. Up to the present time £3,000,000 have been authorized, and nearly £2,400,000 actually paid. The Corporation of Dublin have agreed, for the purpose of carrying out their sewage scheme, to purchase Pigeon-house Fort, and the purchase-money will be employed in the provision of accommodation in or near Dublin, to take the place of the buildings surrendered, as a central store for Ireland. I am glad that this—I will not say quarrel, but difficulty, has been arranged in a manner satisfactory to the Dublin Corporation, as well as to us. We were anxious to assist them and further their drainage scheme; but it was impossible for us to surrender useful and necessary accommodation without, some equivalent. I must say now a word or two on the subject of ranges. I have never disguised the serious effect of our deficiency in this respect, which is indeed palpable, for an improved rifle is of little advantage if the men who are to use it are not trained in it. The sum of £20,000 taken in previous years, and now repeated, enables us to make a gradual provision. But I should not have been contented with this, and would have proposed that it should be largely increased had I not had in view a project whereby a very material increase will, I hope, be made to our training facilities. I trust I shall be able to speak more explicitly when this Vote itself comes before the Committee. I am obliged to the Committee for listening so patiently to what I am afraid was a very dreary story. But in submitting these Estimates I have two final observations which I desire to offer to the Committee. The first I address to it in the capacity of the Secretary for War, as the representative in this House of that great Service with whose administration it is one of the greatest honours and pleasures of my life to have been so long connected. I see letters in the newspapers from persons who apparently think themselves very ingenious because they have made the discovery that this year the Navy Estimates actually exceed the Army Estimates in amount, and 1179 forthwith they wrote to The Times announcing their remarkable discovery. Well, Sir, I am certain of my ground when I say that the officers of the Army, high and low, from the Commander-in-Chief and the distinguished soldiers surrounding him, downwards to the lower ranks, have no fault to find with that fact. On the contrary, they approve of it; they rejoice in it. They recognise that the Navy fills the first place in our national defence, and they applaud the policy of maintaining it in full strength for its high duties. My second observation is made rather as a Cabinet Minister than as Minister for War. We are well aware of the great burden upon the people of this country which the sum demanded this year for the two Services involve. It is not with a light heart or without grave reason that we make our proposals. But we believe this large expenditure to be necessary in the interest of the security of the Empire. We are satisfied that, under the close and ever closer supervision which our financial business, as well as the professional duties of the Army and Navy, now undergo, an ever increasing value is obtained for the provision made, and we know that in making this provision we shall be supported by the general sense of the British people.
§ MR. BRODRICK (Guildford)
said, he was sure that every member of the Committee who had listened to the right hon. Gentleman would admit that a more practical, straightforward, and explicit statement in connection with the Army had never been placed before the House, and the right hon. Gentleman would especially have the sympathy of the Committee in the remarks with which he concluded his observations. It had been, no doubt, a relief and a satisfaction to the Committee to hear that though large additional sums had been demanded for the Navy this year, there was no reduction in the Estimates for the Army. That had not been the experience of previous years, and no more unfortunate doctrine could be maintained than that the Army should suffer because the necessities o the Navy became greater. He had no intention of following the right hon. Gentleman into the numerous points he had thought it necessary to raise, but on the other hand, while expressing 1180 general concurrence with what had fallen from him, he desired to refer to one or two important matters to which the right hon. Gentleman had made no allusion in his statement. It would be in the recollection of the Committee that last year there was a most important discussion on the organisation of the naval and military services of the country, and that on that occasion a pledge was given by the right hon. Gentleman, after a speech from the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, that he would take this subject under his special attention. They heard from the Civil Lord of the Admiralty on Monday that some progress had been made in the general survey which it was hoped the Committee of the Cabinet would take, but the hon. Gentleman told them that, not being a member of the Cabinet himself, he could not tell the Committee what had been the nature of that progress, and to what extent the pledge given had been carried out. Now, the right hon. Gentleman had just told them that this was a vital question. He had told them, in general terms, that great strides had been made in it during the last few years, and he assured them that a satisfactory working had been obtained of the Joint Naval and Military Committee. He was entitled to ask the right hon. Gentleman what he meant by it. He understood that the Joint Naval and Military Committee was a Committee composed of officers of both Services, who met to consider difficult questions referred to them by the Secretary of State. That was a most valuable Committee; its deliberations were most important, and were necessary to the proper handling of the two Services. But they had asked for something more than that. In the course of the Debate last year it was agreed that the system which had obtained up to that time, by which a Committee of the Cabinet occasionally met to discuss and decide disputed points between the Army and Navy, was not a sufficient interposition by the Cabinet in those affairs, and it was asked that this Committee of the Cabinet should have permanent records and confidential advisers. Then it might be assumed that the Cabinet would have the real points and difficulties properly put before them. The leader of the Opposition put this request in definite 1181 terms, and it was not too much to say that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War approved the view that was then taken. Well, what happened now? Had such a Committee of the Cabinet been permanently established? Did the Committee take a general survey of the whole question, or only sit to decide disputed points? Were any minutes of the meetings—any permanent records—now kept which might be passed on from one Cabinet to another, and which future Cabinets—having in view the same objects as the present Cabinet, and without political views—could consult? It would be reassuring if the right hon. Gentleman gave the Committee satisfactory assurances on those points. He had been much disappointed at the speech and memorandum of the right hon. Gentleman, and also at the Estimates themselves, in reference to the question of the provision of stores. The right hon. Gentleman had told the Committee the additions he proposed to make to the Horse Artillery, but he had not told them whether he had made a further provision for a reserve of guns for the new batteries which he proposed to establish. It could not be seen from the Estimates whether he was using the present reserve of guns to create the new batteries. If a reserve was not provided, then they would be making of the guns a sort of stage army. He saw that the total amount demanded for the equipment and reserve of the field artillery in the present year showed a decrease of £3,000 on the Estimates of last year, and that fact was not, in his opinion, at all satisfactory. But there was a more serious matter, and it was in regard to the small arm ammunition. He brought this question before the right hon. Gentleman last year, and pointed out then that an adequate reserve of ammunition ought to be made. He was appalled to find that this year no provision whatever had been made for such a reserve. This was a subject on which they had a right to press for information; for if hon. Members compared the numbers of troops which could be put in the field in case of invasion with the number of rounds of small arm ammunition available, he did not hesitate to say that the House of Commons would take more interest in 1182 this matter than it had hitherto done. There would, he thought, be a feeling of disappointment that the re-arming of the Militia with the magazine rifle had gone on so slowly. The original scheme certainly contemplated the re-arming of the whole of the Militia and the whole of the infantry Volunteers by this time, not necessarily with the magazine rifle, but with a rifle of the same calibre as the magazine rifle. He had hoped the right hon. Gentleman would say something on the question of the colonial contributions. A great deal of discussion had taken place in the Press, especially in the Colonial Press, on the subject during the last 12 months, and he should like to hear that the investigations which took place two or three years ago showed that the treatment of the Colonies was liberal, and not injurious to them. He congratulated the right hon. Gentleman on the decision he had take to increase the Artillery. The reduction of the Horse Artillery seven or eight years ago had caused a great deal of feeling in the Army, and had been a subject of continuous criticism from that time. That reduction of the batteries of horse artillery was, on the whole, unfortunate. He could not go into the reasons for that reduction without giving pain to persons still living. No man was more unwilling to take the step than the late Mr. Stanhope, but it was forced upon him. It was represented to him as the most important reason for that step that the horse artillery was in excess of the proportion it should bear to the rest of the troops. That want of proportion no longer existed, and he was glad the right hon. Gentleman had realised that, and had gone back upon the previous decision. The Secretary of State and the Director of Clothing were to be, congratulated on the improvement that had taken place with regard to the Army clothing. That improvement showed that they had taken to heart the fear expressed by the hon. Member for Preston that in the event of an outbreak of war the arrangements for the transport of clothing would break down. The right hon. Gentleman was also to be congratulated on his decision in regard to the calling out of the Volunteers not to change the words "threatened invasion" to the suggested words "national 1183 danger or emergency." It was his misfortune to endeavour to carry a measure destined to make that change; and the reception given to it, not only by Volunteer colonels, but by experienced Military officers like the late General Hamley, was such that the Government decided not to proceed with it. He hoped that, as the Estimates had been maintained very much in the position in which they were last year, the right hon. Gentleman would have every facility for carrying them within a reasonable time.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)
said, he did not share the optimistic views of the Secretary of State or the hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman laughed at those who desired to make large reforms of system. But even in that part of the speech of the Secretary of State there was a large admission and concession to the reforming element. The right hon. Gentleman said that the want of plan, which had been alleged with more or less truth to exist a few years ago, had been remedied by the Joint Committee of the two Services and the Committee of the Cabinet. This was an admission that the institution of these two Committees had brought about a joint view of the question of national defence which the Hartington Commission had pointed out to be wanting.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
When I spoke of being reluctant to disturb the present system, I meant the existing system of the organisation of the Army. My right hon. Friend is speaking of the administration, of the Army—the relation between the Army and the Navy, and so forth. On that ground I am a Reformer. I signed the Hartington Report. That reform has not yet been accomplished, but when it has been accomplished I should be quite in favour of waiting to see whether the reformed system would work or not.
§ SIR C. DILKE
said, he was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman's clear explanation. With regard to the Committee of the Cabinet, the Civil Lord of the Admiralty told them that since last year it had been in operation, and he claimed that it was an important new departure. Therefore it must be, at all events, an extension of the pre-existing system. There was a very wide difference of opinion in all parts of the 1184 country, and in the House itself, between what might be called the two schools on this question. There was a great deal to be said for the position which the Secretary of State had consistently taken up. Any Member of the House put at the head of the War Office would hesitate in disturbing the existing system because of the immense difficulty in replacing it by a completely successful new one. But there were others who felt that in Army matters, as in foreign and colonial matters, we were getting into the habit of treating all that existed as the best that was possible, and of not attempting to make changes which were really justified by the facts. The Secretary of State for War was undoubtedly very disinclined to move. He said that Mr. Knox, the Accountant-General of the Army, might be classed as an Army reformer. That threw a certain light on the opinions of the Secretary of State for War. The present Pope was, he believed, under the impression that he was an ecclesiastical reformer, but that opinion was not shared except by those in the immediate surroundings of his Holiness. The Secretary of State asked the Committee to sanction an increase in the number of guns. A few years ago the Committee was asked to sanction a decrease. On whose responsibility was that advice given? An hon. Member on the front Bench opposite told them he could not say, as, if he did, it might hurt the feelings of certain living persons. Surely this wobbling in a very few years on a question of very great importance illustrated the want of system and the necessity for some responsible advice in connection with the Army. In the event of war it had been contemplated by high authorities that two complete Army corps would have to be sent from this country to India. In the event of such a call upon our resources, our Army at home—if, indeed, we needed such an Army to guard against invasion and could not rely upon our sea forces—was very short of artillery for the support of our enormous body of half-trained infantry. We were very far short of what we ought to have in mobile field guns, and the more doubtful our force was for defence the more necessary was it for us to have a quantity of well-trained mobile artillery. 1185 When the right hon. Gentleman said that he was going to get a portion of the increase from the depôts, he was counting in the increase a number of guns at Woolwich which had been always reckoned as a part of our national defence. It was satisfactory, however, to note that in the present instance the Secretary for War had informed the Committee of the authority upon which he proposed the increase—namely, Sir Redvers Buller and General Lloyd. The Committee might also congratulate themselves upon another matter mentioned in the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. He spoke of the probability of our being able shortly to use high—explosive shells. Reticence on such a matter could be well understood; at the same time, he did not much believe in it, because he had always found that foreign Governments knew about our experiments and failures in such matters. For example, the failures at Lydd had been published abroad. If our successes were not known abroad our failures, at any rate, were known there. It was, however, an interesting point that there was hope of our shortly coming into line with Germany and France on the question of high explosive shells. In view, however, of the fact that the French Minister of Marine had recently stated that it might shortly be possible to do away with very heavy guns at sea and to use high explosive shells in smaller guns, he thought this country was far behind its neighbours in regard to this matter. The Secretary for War, in the closing words of his speech, had alluded to the very large character of the demand made on the country in the present year. These were, in fact, the heaviest peace estimates ever laid before this country. Probably our expenditure on sea and land would be from £56,000,000 to £58,000,000, while next year it would reach the latter figure at the least. With the expenditure in the colonies, it would come to nearly £60,000,000, and after next year that figure would at least be reached. The country would vote the money willingly enough if it could be led to feel that it was getting value for its money. Generally speaking, he believed that the country did feel this in regard to the Navy, but as regards the Army that impression did not, in his belief, prevail. This country 1186 spent more upon its land forces than France, Germany, or Russia, although the last-named Power maintained more than 1,000,000 of men with the standards upon a peace footing. The reason which was always given for this was that we had no conscription, but he believed that, apart from the question of conscription, the expenditure upon our Army was at a vastly higher rate than that in other countries. He had formerly put forward suggestions for a certain arrangement between the Indian and Home Services. These had been criticised, and, he would admit, to a certain extent broken down. But Lord Roberts and other authorities far more competent than himself had made other suggestions, leaving the United Kingdom partially separate from the Indian system, and these if adopted would, he believed, prove cheaper for India and more effective for the United Kingdom than present arrangements, and were well worthy of consideration. It was an open secret that the most witty of the colleagues of the Secretary for War had described our system as resembling a man who keeps 20 horses in his stable, but who is hardly able to send a gig to meet a friend arriving at the station, and who, if a carriage and pair was required, was unable to turn it out and was compelled to hire. We had an immense nominal force, almost equal to that of one of the great Continental Powers, but we could only show for it an organised force of about two corps in India. All the rest was more or less chaos; and possibly, after six weeks or two months of preparation, we might organise another force of two corps at home. We differed from Continental countries in this—that we did not train our officers by giving them the opportunity of dealing with men in large bodies, and thus obtaining experience of some of the conditions of actual warfare. We had cavalry regiments of from 220 to 240 horses of military age stationed in the manufacturing towns of Lancashire. But single regiments of this description were hardly more than squadrons, and nothing but political reasons in the past had led to this dispersal of our cavalry force. We could not have cavalry in the Continental sense unless these regiments were trained together. He would not 1187 compare this country with the great Continental Powers, but he would take a small Power which, in a military sense, was as small and old-fashioned as ourselves—he meant Belgium. A few years ago Belgium had, in all, eight cavalry regiments dispersed in all parts of the country. Within the last few years these eight cavalry regiments had been brought to two stations, four to one and four to the other; and the strength had been brought up to 3,000 men and 3,000 horses of military age at each station. Under conditions of this sort you could do something with cavalry; but here we were still going on under the old wretched system, with the men scattered about in many places, which had the practical effect of throwing away the money we spent. Of course, in India cavalry occupied a more favourable position. Coming to another point, he would put a delicate question to hon. Members. If names were asked for, they could not be given in public; but he would ask those who knew anything about the present condition of the Army whether, in such a matter as selection for high command, there was at present in our system of military administration any security that those we put into positions of high command where they were able to get military experience, were only those men who were fitted for such posts, and who would hold command in time of war? It was within the knowledge of hon. Members that within the last year or two high divisional commands in India and at home had been given to those who might be very good fellows, but intellectually were not fitted for command in time of war. As long as this state of facts continued, there was not ground for the cheerful optimism which marked the present conduct of the War Office and the opinions of the Secretary for War and his immediate predecessors. On the general question, if we could adopt something like a half-separate system for India, which would consider Indian needs as far as a portion of our recruiting went, we should be able to adopt for home defence a system that would be vastly cheaper than the present. The large expenditure on our land forces provided something for India—some reserve for India, and very little, else. If we had to consider only home 1188 defence, we should have a system something like that of Switzerland or of our colonies. The colonies had adopted a system intermediate between our system of Volunteering and the system of paid armies; they had Volunteers who were paid for the actual time they gave to drill, and who returned to their usual avocations. In Switzerland, for a sum which did not exceed two millions sterling a year, and which, leaving out arms and supplies, would not exceed a million a year, they were able to put into the field 408 field or mountain guns, and by universal admission the force was one of the most efficient artillery in the world. The Swiss had in the first line 130,000 men, in the second line 80,000 men, and in the Reserve, for which arms and clothes were provided, 270,000 men. For Home defensive purposes, if we were free from the Indian problem, we could obtain plenty of men to go through the necessary training for less than we were spending. The Secretary for War had said little about manœuvres, and the reference to them in the printed statement was neither long nor satisfactory. The cost of manœuvres on a large scale had been the reason given for not having them in the past, and last year it was the difficulty of obtaining the necessary ground in a densely-peopled country. Unless we had such manœuvres we could not train Generals. Even without a great extent of land, there was something to be done, as had been shown in Russia, Germany, and France, by merely moving about large bodies of men. If we merely brought the men together, and moved them from London to the coast, we should find ourselves face to face with problems which had tried the most eminent commanders of Russia, Germany, and France. This year the French would bring into their manœuvres forces numbering from 120,000 to 125,000 men; and they were going to be exercised almost entirely in simply marching from one point to another, which would involve the solution of many problems as to the writing of orders and as to supplies. Even such movements as were possible on our Downs would test the efficiency of our Generals and the marching powers of our men; and the great distances that were from year to year marched by the men of foreign armies showed their endurance and the completeness of their 1189 organisation—matters in which it was to be feared we were falling far behind them. With conscription and short service, the work was made harder on the continent than it could be in this country; but still our deficiencies were worthy of the attention of the Secretary for War.
§ SIR FITZWYGRAM (Hants, Fareham)
said, that he believed the cavalry required thorough reorganisation. The number of men and horses voted by the House was, in his belief, sufficient for all probable purposes, but the cavalry force was rendered inefficient by its organisation, which was radically bad. The remedy for this evil was plain and clear, though, perhaps, somewhat drastic; but he had no doubt that the reform, though long needed, would be opposed by the Commander-in-Chief. The number of the rank and file on the Estimates for the cavalry, excluding the three household regiments, was this year 10,500, divided into 19 regiments. Besides this, there were nine regiments in India having five squadrons apiece, but, as he heard that they were tolerably efficient, he should say no more about them. Of the first 19 regiments referred to only six could be called anything like efficient. They were nominally 600 strong, but that would not give more than 500 or 450 efficients. The remaining regiments were on lower standard, and every cavalry officer knew that for purposes of war they were absolutely useless. It was no doubt the policy years back to maintain weak regiments which could be augmented in the course of a war. Such a policy as that might have been proper in the days when wars lasted seven or perhaps fourteen years; but such a policy at the present day was absolutely rotten and out of date. What was the use of a regiment unless it was fit to join a campaign before it was over? The two great wars within the last 30 years were those between Prussia and Austria and France and Germany. In the first the Prussians were under the walls of Vienna in 49 days; and in the second the power of France was broken up in the first five months. In face of these modern facts, what was the use of our cavalry organisation? A system ought to be adopted under which every regiment maintained on the Estimates should be thoroughly fit to start on a campaign to-morrow. The plan he 1190 wished to put before the Committee was this—to take the 10,500 men and to divide them into 14 regiments of 750 strong, each with five squadrons of 150 men each. That would give four squadrons for the purposes of war, and a depôt squadron. In this way there would be 14 regiments 600 strong, perfectly trained and perfectly fit for war, and a fifth or reserve squadron of 150, and he for one, both as a cavalry officer and a man of common sense and observation, would much rather have 14 effective regiments than 19 regiments which everybody knew to be ineffective. Two great objections were made to this proposal. The first was a sentimental one—namely the breaking, up of regiments with old and valued traditions. No one felt that more than ho did, but when it became a question of absolute necessity for the benefit of the cavalry, that ought not to prevail, and the change ought to be made at once. The other objection was the thorough distrust of the War Office which was felt by a great many old soldiers, the belief that the War Office would readily accept a reduction in the number of regiments, but in a few years, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer was hard up, would reduce the number of men, and the last state would be worse than the first. He did not attach any value to this view, for he did not believe that the House would ever be so wanting in its duty to the country as to allow that to be done. In view of the increased amount voted for the Navy when the necessity arose, he had no doubt that the House would always be willing to vote what was necessary for the Army. He believed the scheme he had proposed was a good one, and he hoped the Secretary for War, though he was an optimist and saw everything in a rosy light, would see that there was some force in what he had said—that without any increased cost to the nation and without any increase in numbers, there was no difficulty in rendering the cavalry force, which he believed to be composed of the best officers, non-commissioned officers, and men, equal to any body of cavalry that could be required in war. There was another point he wished to mention, and that was in regard to the reserve cavalry men. In the infantry he believed the reserve man was very useful, because in civil life he kept in 1191 work; in fact, he should think he did a great deal more work than the infantry soldier in barracks. But the case with the reserve cavalryman was quite different. He was employed about horses and stables, but they seldom or never mounted a horse, and the consequence was that after a year or two they became stiff in the muscles required for riding. He wished to suggest that after being two years in the cavalry reserve the cavalryman should be transferred to the infantry reserve. It would, no doubt, be objected to that that man who had been accustomed to the carbine would not take readily to the musket. He did not think there was anything in that. Though the man who had been using the musket found it very difficult to accustom himself to the carbine, the man who could shoot with a carbine would find no difficulty with the musket. But his point was, not to keep on paper men who could not be depended on for war. As to the mounted infantry, he had always been a strong advocate of that force, but they were not as well trained as they ought to be, and the expenditure upon them was greater than it need be. In the first place 300 or 400 cobs were bought, though he believed they turned out a pretty good speculation. Then his second objection was, that a large number of men were sent down to Aldershot to be trained by a staff which was much too small. His third objection was that the system was more expensive than was necessary. A better plan would be to send, say, 30 men from an infantry battalion to the nearest cavalry regiment for training. That should be done as soon as possible after the cavalry drill season was over, and the training should last from about October 8 until December 15. Another batch of 30 line men could join the cavalry regiment on January 1, and stay with it until March I5. This would give the men practice in the riding-school for two-and-a-half months. In London men could be sent in this way from the Foot Guards to the regiments of Household Cavalry, and no expense would be entailed. Similarly men could be trained with ease with the cavalry regiments at Aldershot, Shorncliffe, and York, and all other cavalry head-quarters. The plan could be carried out without expense. If it was thought that 30 men were too few to 1192 send from one regiment in a year to train with cavalry, let the number be increased to 60. He might be told that the cavalry regiments would object to the trouble, but he believed himself that on cavalry regiment would raise the slightest objection to this scheme. In fact, cavalry regiments would be glad to have these additional men, for in the furlough season they were always short of troopers.
§ SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)
said, he wished to interpose a very few words with reference, not to anything contained in the admirable statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but with reference to an omission which he thought was made in it. In reply to a question recently in the House referring to the rapidly diminishing number of the old soldiers of the Crimea, the Financial Secretary indicated that the right hon. Gentleman would make some statement on the subject to-day. When the Party opposite were in power, a very considerable addition was made to the number of these pensioners, but he thought the time had now come when the right hon. Gentleman might fairly consider whether, having in view how rapidly these poor fellows were disappearing, he could not deal with them as a body, and once for all grant them those pensions which would be of so much advantage to them in their declining years. There was another point. Under the present conditions, these pensions were given practically only to poor fellows who, if not in the workhouse, were approaching it and in receipt of outdoor relief. The condition that they must be in absolutely destitute circumstances was really most discouraging to the best class of these poor men; men who had some slight assistance from their friends, or who were able to earn three or four shillings a week, could not receive a pension. It was quite needless to dwell on the desirableness of such pensions being given. He had received only yesterday a letter from a distinguished officer who served in the Crimea, in which he said:More noble, devoted soldiers than my old comrades of the Crimea, especially those of the winter of 1854–5, never breathed the breath of life. Badly fed and overworked, exposed, ill clad, to all the rigour of a Russian winter, weak and ill in body, but undaunted in spirit, they nobly upheld the honour of the Empire against the far superior numbers of a brave enemy. Exposed in the open under most dangerous and 1193 distressing circumstances, they held their ground it the point of the bayonet. Owing to the position I then held in my regiment, I knew the men well, how in the midst of their sufferings and when wounded, they cheered and blessed our good Queen for her sympathy with their sufferings. As it was with my regiment, so it was with the others. Devoted and loyal to Queen and country, they nobly performed their duty as British soldiers, and surely now in their old age, in their declining days, something better than the cold shelter of a workhouse should be provided for them.That was the testimony of a distinguished officer who saw, from day to day, from week to week, and from month to month, in that extraordinary winter what these poor fellows endured and suffered. He could not make an appeal more cogently, but he trusted that before the vote was passed, they would hear from the Secretary of State an intimation that something more would be done.
§ MR. W. H. MYERS (Winchester)
called attention to the recent fire at Winchester Barracks, and asked whether the barracks would be re-built. He understood that the Military Authorities had recently been surveying the site. He believed that, at the time of the fire the control of the water mains in the barracks was in the, hands of the barrack authorities, and that if was the custom to turn off all the valves at four o'clock in the afternoon, thus shutting off any inflow of water from the mains. He wished to know whether this practice was still continued, and whether it prevailed in other barracks, at Portsmouth, for example, where there, was a fire the other day. He understood that it was not the custom at the War Office to insure barracks. What, he would like to know, was the extent of loss sustained by the fire at Winchester, and how was it to be met? Was there any sinking or reserve fund available for the purpose?
§ SIR E. S. HILL (Bristol, S.)
drew attention to the difficulty of inducing officers of the Royal Artillery to serve as adjutants of volunteer artillery corps. Assuming volunteer artillery to be necessary, and considering the important positions allocated to it in the plan of national defence—this would appear to be the opinion of the Military Authorities—he held that there could not be a more important duty devolving upon officers of the Royal Artillery than the duty of assisting to instruct volunteer artillery corps. The 1194 truth was that this post of adjutant was not attractive, and there was extreme difficulty in inducing suitable officers to come forward. The term adjutant in the case of volunteers did not convey exactly the same meaning as it did in the case of the regular forces or Militia, because there were duties that fell upon adjutants of volunteers which did not appertain to the same position in the senior Services. Upon the manner in which an adjutant of volunteers imparted instruction depended to a very great extent the amount of attendance at drills, and so the efficiency of the regiment. The difficulty to which he referred was largely connected with the question of pounds, shillings, and pence. There was no doubt that it was a disadvantage to an officer in the Royal Artillery to accept the position of volunteer adjutant, for the allowances made to him did not cover the expenses which they were intended to meet. It was true that an extra allowance had been granted to these adjutants by the late Mr. Stanhope, but since then an increase of pay, called "armament pay," had been given to garrison officers in the Royal Artillery, so that the extra allowance had ceased to be an inducement to officers to serve as adjutants. The pecuniary position of adjutants ought to be improved. If the armament pay, 3s. a day, could be extended to them there would be competition for these posts instead of disinclination to accept them. It was undesirable that very young artillery officers should be posted to volunteer adjutancies. An adjutant of volunteers should have the experience of a captain, as is required of adjutants of militia. Another reason for the reluctance of artillery officers to become volunteer adjutants was their fear that when they rejoined their regiments they might be deemed ignorant of the latest scientific improvements in artillery. Such fear, however, would cease to exist if facilities were given to adjutants to attend classes at Shoeburyness or elsewhere. Allusion had been made to the scarcity of officers in the Volunteer force. They did not want pay, they did not wish to be covered with medals, and they did not wish Army commissions, has had been suggested, but they should be treated as integral portions of Her 1195 Majesty's defensive forces, and relieved of heavy expenses for what really and truly appertained to their means of instruction. He was sorry the Secretary of State found himself obliged to say that captiation allowances was a payment in advance based upon last year's returns, so that in the event of a new volunteer regiment being raised, it would have no right to capitation grant in respect of its first year. That declaration would be heard by commanding officers with dismay, because it was well-known that, in many instances, they had pledged their personal credit for debts incurred, on the understanding that the grant was by way of payment for past services. He trusted this matter would receive the serious attention of the Government. Again, volunteer officers should have better facilities for attending schools of instruction. At the present moment they were at a great disadvantage as compared with their brethren in the Militia, in respect of allowances. It was discouraging to them to find that the commissions they held did not entitle them to the privileges which similar commissions signed by Her Majesty conferred on other officers. The only remedy he had to suggest for the scarcity of officers was that the force should be united, as far as possible, with the Army, and that it should be clearly understood the Volunteers formed an essential and necessary portion of Her Majesty's defensive forces.
§ SIR A. HAYTER (Walsall)
congratulated his right hon. Friend upon the absolutely unique position which he occupied, not only in presenting Estimates showing an absolute diminution of £22,000 upon those of the preceding year, but also showing figures less by £717,000 than those presented by the Admiralty for the sister service. Nor did it appear that this result had been arrived at by any diminution of the number of men, which displayed an actual increase, while the Inspector General of Recruiting bore witness that never at any time were his operations conducted under more favourable circumstances, nor the ranks better filled with recruits of good stamp, than during the past year. He knew that this was not altogether a circumstance bearing testimony to the prosperity of the country in other walks of life. On the 1196 contrary, it was probably true that industrial difficulty was military opportunity; but so far as this service was concerned, they must rejoice that this prosperous state of affairs had been brought about, not by any lowering of the standard of height, or accepting men of a less satisfactory physique, but by the actual offering of men of adequate stature, and improving physical conditions. Another most satisfactory feature was the diminution of the number of men who quit the Army by purchase, showing that those who were discontented with the conditions of service were a number yearly decreasing in strength. In 1892, 3133 purchased their discharge; in 1893, 2617; in 1894, 2454, bearing emphatic testimony to the increased comforts and attractions of the Service. He regretted extremely that the right hon. Gentleman had thought fit to limit the manœuvres to a short distance from Aldershot, thereby depriving the troops of the experience to be gained by more extensive operations. Whatever zeal the Duke of Connaught and his Staff might display, it was hardly possible, when moving so short a distance from their base, that the two important Departments of the Commissariat and Transport should have adequate practice in their most essential duties. In any event, he trusted that the modest sum of £6,000, spent last year with such good effect in the Cavalry Manœuvres at Churn, would not be spared this year. It was hardly possible for any Cavalry officer or sergeant to have in any other way adequate instruction in brigade and division: our troops were so scattered or in detachments, especially in Ireland, that no commanding officer had a chance of bringing his regiment together and in contact with other troops, except in the large camps; and anyone reading the Memorandum of the Inspector-General of Cavalry upon the late manœuvres could not fail to discern the supreme importance which that general officer attached to the annual drill of Cavalry in large masses. Last year the Secretary of State said—There is a sum of £2,400 taken for drilling and training Army Reserves, which, although a modest sum, is a step in the right direction. It was for three days' training, or 12 drills to be done by men of 10 years' service.He should like to know the result of this 1197 experiment, and also whether this invitation to the men of the Reserve to come out this year was in any way connected with the same object? As he had been, since his connection with the War Office, advocating this step, he might be allowed to express his satisfaction that the Military Authorities appeared at last to share his views. To leave 84,000 men of the best and most seasoned material to take their chance of being able either to shoot or to drill, until the very outbreak of hostilities, appeared to him to be the most dangerous and foolhardy proceeding. The Secretary of State for War mentioned that some 800 of these men were due to each battalion of Infantry at home, and they could easily see that with proper care they would form the backbone of our Infantry force. How far they would respond to an invitation to come out this year was very doubtful, but he only ventured to advocate that they should do a certain number of drills and shooting with their local rifle corps, and not leave their occupations at all. He had only one other point to mention. Last year the Secretary of State promised that he would look into the question of the teaching of modern languages at Sandhurst. No provision was, he observed, made for either French or German teaching this year by the appointment of professors at Sandhurst, and we were in this anomalous condition that we gave 1,000 marks at the entrance examination for a knowledge of French and German, and we took every opportunity of discouraging the study of those languages amongst the students afterwards. Now there was a professor of German and a professor of French at the Staff College within the same grounds as Sandhurst itself. Might not those students, who desired it, attend lectures at the staff and continue their study of French and German, and be encouraged to keep up their knowledge of these languages by some recognition in the final examination by additional marks when competing for commissions?
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY OF THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. WOODALL,) Hanley
, replying to the points which had been raised by the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean, said that arrangements for charging shells with high explosive acids were so far advanced that special buildings were being erected 1198 at Woolwich in which that work and the fitting of the shells with safe and efficient detonators could be carried on with the maximum of safety to the people employed in a comparatively dangerous occupation. In regard to the points raised by the hon. Member for Guildford, he could assure the hon. Gentleman that the store of small arm ammunition was so ample that it was not necessary to take a larger sum for the coming year than, was provided in the Estimates. The fact was that, although the manufacture of cordite was seriously interrupted by the regrettable explosion at Waltham, they had been able to profit by the supply of nitro-glycerine with which their own gun-cotton was saturated by private manufacturers. The paste so obtained could, without danger, be worked up into cordite at Waltham. With regard to the three extra batteries, he had to explain that it had been found possible to make a fresh allocation of the money taken in the Vote for stores since the printing of the Estimates now before the House. They had been enabled to do this by the decision of the military authorities giving approval of a pattern of 303 rifle, converted from the Martini-Henry weapons which had been superseded by the magazine rifle. Employment would be found at the Enfield factory on the work of this conversion instead of in adding to the store of magazine rifles, the reserve of which was regarded as ample. The arm so adapted would be submitted for practical trial, but there appeared to be no doubt that it would be regarded by the Volunteers as in every respect satisfactory.
§ MR. JEFFREYS (Hants, Basingstoke)
did not wish to criticise the statement of the right hon. Gentleman in a hostile manner, because he believed it would prove satisfactory to the Army and the country generally. The right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean had said that the Army here cost a great deal more than in Continental countries, but that was because the British was a voluntary army, and the Government were obliged to pay the ordinary rate of wages. He was sure neither the Committee nor the country would like to reduce the cost of the Army by reducing the wages.
§ SIR C. W. DILKE
I went on to say that attempts had been made, notably 1199 at the Statistical Society, on more than one occasion, to separate that portion of the charges of the Army connected with the presence or absence of conscription, and that even when this was done, our Army was still dearer than Continental armies.
§ MR. JEFFREYS
said, that of course the main cost of our Army wan the cost of wages. With reference to the question of recruiting, whenever there was an increase in the number of recruits, it did not show that more people were wishing to enter the Army, but rather that a great many more people were out of employment. In the country districts many men joined the Army because of their inability to obtain work. The right hon. Gentleman, in his statement, incidentally mentioned that one of the most valued officers of the War Office had been obliged to retire on account of the system of compulsory retirement because of age. That was only a specimen of what happened to a great many officers of the Army, and there was nothing of which the officers complained so much as having to retire compulsorily at an early age. He hoped some readjustment would be made in the present system. It seemed absurd that because a man at the age of 45 had not become a lieutenant-colonel, that therefore he must retire from Her Majesty's service. At that age he was in the prime of life, and yet, because of the slow promotion that obtained in his regiment, he was turned out, and not only did they lose his services, but the country had to pay him a retiring pension. That seemed to him a most ridiculous thing, and one which would not be tolerated in any other industrial walk in life. Instead of being turned out at this early age, it was for the benefit of the Army itself that officers of such experience should be retained in the service, while there would be a great saving to the country, which would not then have to pay all these retiring pensions. He wished to call attention to the matter of deferred pay which was payed to the troops. He was quite sure that a good deal of that deferred pay, when it came to the soldiers at the end of 12 years, was absolutely wasted. When a soldier received £20 or £25 in his hand in one sum, he had never been in possession of such a large amount before, and he often spent it in 1200 a very rapid way. A case was in the police courts the other day in which it appeared that a soldier had drawn his deferred pay. Among his money he had two £5 notes; one of these was spent in about two hours in treating his companions, and the other would, no doubt, have gone in the same way had it not been purloined from him in a public-house. He thought some way ought to be devised by which the men should not get the money all at once, but should have it put in savings banks for use in their future life. The increase in the field artillery was, he thought, a most satisfactory feature of the estimates, but he would like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman intended to abolish the present depot, or to gradually increase the officers and men in forming these new battalions. He thought it was very important to know where we were to draw these men from. Each of these three Army corps were to have from 84 to 102 guns, but in the German or French Army corps they had 120 guns, and our Army, he contended, should be armed in exactly the same way as the Continental Armies. With regard to sickness amongst the troops, he believed the troops were never in a more healthy condition than now, but it was not very long ago since the War Office laid a sewage farm close to the hospital in the Aldershot camp. He believed this had been remedied now, but at the time it caused a great deal of illness, and showed great carelessness on the part of the military authorities. He should have to call attention to the cost of the forage and provisions at the right time, because it was admitted last year that 60 per cent, of the forage was foreign, and that a great amount of the meat came from abroad, and he thought this was contrary to the wishes of the general public of the kingdom. He believed the general statement with regard to the Army would be received with satisfaction by the service itself and by the country.
§ SIR D. MACFARLANE (Argyll)
said, they were all competent to discuss the amount of the Army estimates, which was in the gross 21 millions. He would not say one word in disparagement of the officers and men of our gallant Army, but he thought that cost too much money. The wages, clothing, food, accommodation, and everything 1201 else for each soldier was about £56 per annum, and each soldier cost the country £125 per annum, as some £68 was spent in administering his affairs. He was glad that so many things had been done to increase the comfort of our soldiers, but he thought it would be better to spend more money on our Navy and less on our Army. He believed we could have as many men as efficient as at present for far less money, because the money at present was spent largely on drones in office, and not upon the working bees. In the interests of the taxpayers he protested against the system of extravagance, which required such an enormous vote.
§ MR. R. W. HANBURY (Preston)
thought that denunciations such as those of the hon. Member were useless, unless suggestions were also put forward. He did not know whether the withdrawal of the troops from Cyprus was the beginning of a new policy, or a mere temporary arrangement, but in view of a speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the other night, it seemed as if it was part of a definite policy of withdrawal on the part of the Government. He was told also that there was an intention of withdrawing a battalion from Egypt, and if so, that would be very dangerous policy indeed. He thought our forces there needed strengthening rather than diminishing at present. He did not think they had had a satisfactory answer to the point in regard to the Artillery, or rather the guns, raised by the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. In regard to a small matter, which, however, affected the comfort of the soldier and the welfare of the Army, he would like to know whether some steps could not be taken, not to prevent marriages outside the ordinary married strength of the Army, but to warn the girls who married these men of the hard life to which they undoubtedly exposed themselves. He thought it would be possible to make it more generally known through the clergy and registrars, by means of the issue of some circular. He was glad to hear what his right hon. Friend said with regard to the gallantry and service done by the West India regiments. Was it not possible to extend that system of commendation a little further? We were extending our Empire, and bringing 1202 within its scope a great variety of native races, and it seemed to him that we were wasting a great reserve of material if we did not make some use of these men. They were men particularly adapted to the warfare in which this country often engaged, and a regiment or two of native troops in South Africa would be a valuable addition to the Forces of this Country. As to recruiting, he was much struck with what the right hon. Gentleman said as to the compulsory cessation of recruiting during the winter months, owing to what he considered to be an absurd regulation. It was a very absurd regulation that the War Office, during the period of winter, which, he believed was the time really to get more recruits than any other period, should deliberately, by a hard and fast rule, shut themselves out from the opportunity of getting the very men wanted for the Army. With reference to deferred pay, he was certain that the payment of deferred pay in a large sum when the men left the colours was a source of infinite mischief, not only to the men, but to the Army itself. He believed the system to be a sheer waste, and he offered the suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be better to pay the money by instalments, or add it to the actual pay of the men when serving with the colours. The system was established, no doubt, with a good idea, but at present it had the result, in the first place, of inducing the men to leave the colours as soon as possible. He thought it had also the very bad effect of discouraging certain men who might be very valuable in the Army by leading them to take the deferred pay on joining the Reserve. The money was squandered within a few months, and the money thus accumulated was of no good to the men. They were, indeed, left worse off than they were before.
§ MR. WILLIAM WHITELAW (Perth)
, referred to the Yeomanry, and asked whether the allowance of £2 made to marksmen in the Yeomanry during the last two or three years was to be continued? As to the two days' preliminary drill, he showed that some years ago the Yeomanry troops were allowed to put in those two days' drill at the headquarters of the troops instead of at the headquarters of the regiment: now the system was reversed. The result was that it 1203 was impossible to get those portions of a squadron living far from the training ground conveniently together, so as to allow the men to be seen in their own districts. He belonged to a part of a Yeomanry squadron which lived over 20 miles from the district of training. If they were allowed to put in the two days' drill at their own headquarters they would probably gather a number of spectators to see the manœuvres, and thus give an enormous help to recruiting. Under the New Yeomanry Regulations, however, the troops could not show themselves for more than five minutes while marching through the streets of a town on the way to headquarters. He hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would consider whether he could not possibly relax the rule, which, though in many instances a good one, yet acted to the detriment of Yeomanry regiments in certain cases. On the point of the permanent staff he stated that there was an adjutant to three Yeomanry regiments. He believed that the adjutant belonging to the Cavalry was absolutely required for the training of a Yeomanry regiment. But the office work which he performed for the remainder of the year could be as well overtaken by an officer of the Yeomanry regiment, and a saving would besides be effected. It would, moreover, be generally to the advantage of the regiment if, instead of an adjutant appointed for five years, they allowed each regiment to have an adjutant appointed for the office work out of its own officers, while permitting an officer to be sent from the nearest Cavalry regiment to do the work of the adjutant at the annual training.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said that the points of detail which the hon. Member had brought forward were unfortunately not familiar to him at that moment, and he thought they had better be raised on the Vote itself. He would then be better prepared to give the information, and if his hon. Friend would communicate the points to him he would inquire into them. He had stated in his explanation that the contingent allowance would be continued on a footing to last for three years; £3 to be given for those who passed the third class, and £1 10s. for those who did not. The hon. Member for Guildford asked some questions as to the Cabinet arrangements for the control of the Army and 1204 Navy Services. He assented to the general principle which had been laid down by the present Leader of the Opposition, but as to the particular recommendation that there should be a Standing Committee of the Cabinet which should keep records, and have a professional adviser, that was a proposal which had never commended itself to him, and to which he would personally entertain considerable objection, more especially to the professional adviser. It was undesirable that any fixed institution of that kind should exist. The Committee; of the Cabinet had full power to ask for any assistance it wanted, but he did not approve any permanent arrangement of that kind to include professional advisers. There was a proposal on the part of the Hartington Commission of a Council consisting of eminent professional men, and he agreed not to object to that particular paragraph of the recommendation, because it was hoped that there might be some advantage in the arrangement. He was not in favour of any rigid and stereotyped Committee of the Cabinet keeping records of their proceedings. This matter was now on such a fooling that the necessity for an arrangement of this sort was greatly exaggerated. There was the Prime Minister, and the Ministers for War and the Marine; and there were other Ministers more or less concerned, such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretaries of State for India and the Colonies. These, or the first three alone, for certain purposes constituted a Committee of sufficient authority.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said that, after all, people could consult without being called together. If three Ministers met in the Recess probably a great deal of time would be spent in discussing how they had been spending the Recess, and probably the business would be better attended to by the humble means of a despatch-box. On these grounds he did not think that it was desirable to overdo the necessity for a cast-iron scheme of a Committee passing down records from one Government to another. As to small-arm ammunition, the War Office, according to its competent advisers, stood very well in this 1205 respect now. There had been developed in this country a wonderful Facility for supplying small-arm ammunition, and it was unnecessary to keep any exaggerated reserve, as the War Office was advised that it had a sufficient supply for its purposes now. As to the contribution of the Colonies, there was an inter-Departmental Committee now sitting, which he hoped would soon come to a conclusion. It dealt with principles which would apply to all the vexed questions—the Straits, Mauritius, and Hongkong—and there was every prospect of an early decision, which he hoped would be found to do equal justice between the reasonable demands of the Empire and the necessities of the several colonies. His right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean had taken large ground, and had discussed the whole organisation of the Army. The right hon. Gentleman had a most ingenious scheme of his own, which he put forward many years ago. With great good sense his right hon. Friend did not pin himself to the details of the scheme, and admitted that many parts of it might be open to amendment; and he referred to an alternative scheme put forward by Lord Roberts. Both schemes practically involved a separate and secondary—though not second-rate—army for Indian purposes. He himself was suspicious of all these schemes. Soon after he became Secretary for War, knowing of his right hon. Friend's proposal, and hearing that he might introduce it at any time, he obtained and always carried in his pocket an elaborate financial analysis of the scheme, showing the most portentous and appalling results to the British and Indian Exchequers. He was prepared to discharge this pistol at his right hon. Friend's head whenever he might happen to broach the subject: but, unfortunately, his right hon. friend had been so long quiet that he had left this pistol at home. An enormous number of men had devoted their time and attention to this subject, and none with greater intelligence or knowlege than the right hon. Gentleman. The War Office had innumerable schemes; but he for one did not feel equal to the task of even criticising these schemes at the present moment. He could assure the Committee that all these schemes had been considered and every one had been found 1206 open to certain objections. He admitted that the existing scheme was also open to objections; but it was a workable acheme, and one which answered its purpose. In the name of common sense let it be continued for a certain number of years, at all events, until the Army had become thoroughly accustomed to it, and until people had ceased to expect that it would be changed from one year to another. Then, if it failed to give expected results, it would be time enough to turn to another. As to the comparative costliness of our Army, it was not only conscription that entered into the calculation. In those countries where conscription was in force the whole resources of the country were laid at the disposal of the Army, and all the civil interests of the country were made to take "a back seat." When troops were moving, the whole of the passenger and goods traffic was stopped that the troops might pass, and that was only one of the instances out of a hundred where there was a great difference here. For everything here the military authorities had to pay heavily, and no advantage was given to them over the ordinary public. In other countries, the public was nowhere. Let the Committee conceive what an enormous difference that made in the cost of the Army; and it was a difference which it was almost impossible to assess. Our Estimates had at least this advantage—that, large as they were and swollen as they might appear to be, they at least brought to the surface the whole cost to the country of the Army. The private resources of the country lost nothing on account of the Army which did not appear on the Estimates; and the same could not be said of the Estimates of any of the great military Powers with which a comparison was made. The right hon. Gentleman had complained that cavalry regiments were stationed in towns. But with respect to the amusements of the officers and men, and the pleasure of the community, it would be very much more desirable if the cavalry could be kept in quarters where they could be submitted to constant training. But this was very difficult to accomplish. Little by little stations formerly used had been given up, though he would not say that the scheme could be carried out entirely. 1207 The right hon. Gentleman was very anxious to have great manœuvres. This year the sum put down for manœuvres was £24,000, as against £20,000 last year, so that there was an increase. But large manœuvres on a grand scale could not be conducted in this country, because it was so much enclosed and so highly cultivated. To show how, not only the interest of the public, but the interest of private individuals, interfered with the necessities of the Army, he would mention that he was strongly urged by the military authorities to introduce a Bill dealing with the rights of the shooting tenant, because all manœuvres were hampered and interfered with in every direction, not by the agriculturists, who were very glad to see the soldiers, but by the shooting tenants. The question for him was how many shooting tenants there were in the House of Commons, and he thought it better to leave the question alone. That was the way in which manœuvres on a grand scale were prevented in this country. The hon. and gallant Member for Hampshire had made a most interesting speech on a subject, on which none could speak with greater authority than himself. He quite agreed with much of what the hon. and gallant Gentleman said; but the hon. and gallant Gentleman knew how difficult it would be to carry out a third part of his recommendations. As to his suggestion that the cavalry Reserveman's muscles would become too stiff for riding, he would point out that at any rate such a Reservist would be useful as a dismounted man in many duties where an ordinary Reservist would not do. As to campaign pensions, there were a number of men still who had not received them. But they were men who had no right to a pension, having preferred to give up their right by leaving the Army before the full time in order to seek civil employment. Some of them were now in destitution, and if they received pensions they were compassionate pensions altogether. What the Government proposed was a substantial concession—namely, that these pensions might be claimed by any man, eligible in point of service and character, who was over 65 years of age, or disabled by physical infirmity from earning his own livelihood. The hon. Member for Winchester had 1208 asked about the barracks at Winchester, and he could only say this matter stood where it did when last it was referred to. An officer of the Royal Engineers had made inquiries, but, as the hon. Member was aware, it was a question of getting additional ground. Then the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) had asked a number of questions. First he spoke of withdrawal from Cyprus, and to this the reply was that it was a military and not a political withdrawal. A military withdrawal because a wing of a regiment was stationed there, and nothing was more injurious to discipline than that a small body of men should be isolated from other troops. Therefore, it being shown that the withdrawal would be attended with no evil consequences, the wing had been ordered to join the regiment at Malta. There would still remain at Cyprus a few men to look after the building there. The hon. Member also referred to the withdrawal of a battalion from Egypt, and he need hardly say the very first thing would be to have the full consent of Lord Cromer. Subject to that condition, it would be safe to make the withdrawal.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said, No; consent had not been absolutely obtained, but from correspondence, he had reason to entertain hope that it might be possible. The hon. Gentleman asked about postal payments. The other day he made a mistake when he said that any tradesman could cash the order. That, he found, was strictly forbidden, and for the reason that it might lead to the pawning of pensions. It was neglect on his part to give the answer he did, for which he apologised. There must be very few places so far from a post office that a man could not without great inconvenience get his order cashed, but he was making inquiries to see if any provision could be made to meet exceptional cases. The hon. Gentleman spoke of the desirability of not exceeding the establishment for the year. It was his personal opinion that it would be absurd to lay down a strict limitation. It arose from the old jealousy of a standing Army. What was really wanted was that there should be no serious excess, that the average should 1209 not exceed a certain number; a rigid application of the figures would have much inconvenience. The hon. Gentleman also spoke of the payment of deferred pay. The payment was now made at the time when a man left, and it was paid to his account in the savings bank, so that there should not he temptation to him to spend the money in debauchery among his comrades. At the same time a comparatively large sum would come into his possession, and the arrangement was made with a view to his having money for his new start in life. He hoped the Committee would now allow the Vote to be taken.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ £6,003,000 for Pay and Allowances Army (General Staff), Regiments, Reserves, and Departments.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (SIR W. HARCOURT,) Derby
appealed to the hon. and gallant Member to reserve his remarks for the discussion, which would he resumed at an early day.
§ Vote agreed to.
§ Resolutions reported; Committee to sit again on Monday.